This is part of a series The Miami Student is running about the University Archives. All information in the following article was obtained from the University Archives with the help of University Archivist Bob Schmidt.
As Miami University students, we know the Miami University Marching Band for their good music, peppy uniforms and off-color cheers. Last week however, the country saw the band during their second appearance in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. While we expect the band to perform at nearly every sporting event, how did this marching machine come to be?
Miami had a marching band as early as 1909 and the band started appearing at football games in 1915. Before the band was formed, Shilo Shaffer Meyers, Director of the music department in 1906, argued that the band was a necessary part of college.
“It is recognized that as literature represents the best poetic and dramatic thought of the past and present, so music represents the highest genius and the best social, moral and religious thoughts in the history of the development of the human race and is, therefore, an inheritance of value equal to any art or science in our education system,” Meyers said.
The writers for the Recensio yearbook in 1912 had less grandiose words for the band.
“An indescribable combination of instruments producing a variety of noise almost necessary to the rooting at a football game,” Recensio proclaimed. “At all other times it is banished from the realm of decent society of the university.”
When the band first began, it had less than 20 men. It grew to around 90 members in the 1950s and added the shakeretts and majorettes to their performances. In the 1960s the band brought out the “Miami Marching Machine,” a Volkswagen covered in a plywood structure, onto the field with them. Today, the band has over 250 members and accepts musicians from all majors.
The band’s appearance in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade last week followed their parade debut in 2003.